August in the Vegie Patch + Greenhouse

Purple Sprouting Broccoli underplanted with redclover parsnips and red clover

August is our get ready for spring month. Use this month to pave the way for spring plantings. If you get in early with greencrops and organic matter you’ll reduce your need for bought fertiliser and compost.

Begin by cleaning out the old.

Make space…

  • Leave everything that is still providing harvest. Clean older crops up by peeling off old ratty foliage and in doing so you’ll create room.
  • Clean out finished crops by chopping them off at ground level – where practical. Crunch or chop them up and use them in compost or for mulch. Really big chunky bits can go beneath avocados or other fruit trees to slowly break down.
  • Harvest over wintering rootcrops like carrots, parsnips and yams. Wash them, dry them and store them in the crisper. Catch them before the weather warms next month and they start to split and head off to seed. Don’t waste these best of all foods!

… then fill it up right away!

shadecoth taken off the newly sprouted greencrop - ready to go it alone without protection
Mustard and phacelia being released from the shade cloth cover which provided bird/ cat/ rain protection.

Fill the space right away before the weeds take over. Keep harvest momentum up with new food crops and prep for spring with greencrops or compost piles.

Try to give an equal weight to each. They don’t need to be separate necessarily, some crops are well suited to sharing space with a greencrop as in the top photo where crimson clover, parsnip and nasturtium provide the groundcover for sprouting broccoli.

  • Plant in guilds for garden strength. Peas + kale + mizuna + borage + calendula OR broadbeans + bok choy + cornflowers + phacelia. So many potential combos – have fun!
  • Sow mixed greencrops of your choosing. Create your own little greencrop guilds – a nitrogen fixer + tap root + nectar + groundcover
  • Pile up organic matter

Stock up on compost + seeds


Order in whatever seeds you need… remember to include greencrops and companions!

If you are going to need compost, look about for an organic supplier or atleast someone who cares about your gardens health ie tests each batch for mineral balance. Bought compost will likely be immature and will definately be devoid of life. It’ll benefit greatly from some time sitting on your soil to mature and become imbued with life, especially if its been sealed in a plastic bag. Free it from its suffocating bonds and empty it onto the soil. Perhaps pour some EM over it – let it breathe and revitalise before adding it to your garden.

What to plant and sow in August

newly transplanted peas at the base of mesh trellis
Peas, miners lettuce, phacelia, chamomile. I’ll dollop bits of mulch on top the little bits of grass to easily smother them.

Here’s what I can plant in my Levin garden, given that at the mo, my soil is 10 degrees and night temps range from 3 to 13. My soil has transformed from claggy clay to a lovely workable loam – this also dictates what I can plant. If yours is still soggy, leave it alone and plant into pots and boxes until it’s dried out. Meantime, keep building and converting clay to soil, you’ll get there!

If you’re a beginner and unsure what suits your place just take the plunge and have a go – it’s simply the best way to learn. It’s how us old gardeners know stuff, by all our flop crops.


newly planted corn and salads under bird net and poppies


  • Mustard and phacelia greencrops for spring nectar and bee + predatory insect enticement
  • Lupin greencrops sown this month will be pre-flower and ready to cut down or plant amongst, come October. A perfectly timed precursor to mid-spring plantings of heavy feeders. Think corn! tomatoes! squash!
  • Poppy, calendula and borage


  • Broccoli, cabbage, spring onions, red onions, brown onions, peas, miners lettuce, corn salad, parsley, various saladings


  • Broadbeans
  • Spinach, coriander, bok choy, saladings or rocket in the greenhouse unless its warm enough outside at yours.


  • Broadbeans, peas and brassicas
  • Broccoli, kale, cabbage, onions, shallots, spring onions, perpetual spinach, silverbeet
  • Saladings, beetroot, potatoes or bok choy in the greenhouse
  • Asparagus
  • Strawberries

Lots of Onions in a Small Space

onions - 3 in 1 hole
The onions pop up sideways and fill the space nicely

Three times as many in fact – I’ve got x 102 in a 2m x 1.2m space using my 3 onions in 1 hole trick. Or rather, Eliot Coleman’s 3 in 1 hole trick (honour where honour is due). They are happier this way – such flimsy seedlings for so long, they prefer to be tucked up with mates rather than flailing about on their own. Plant at 20cm spacings.

Asparagus Prep

The asparagus patch in front of the stonewall – weeded then layered with chook house scrapings and loads of long grass.

Prep your asparagus patch for a productive season by weeding it first, then spread a decent layer of homemade compost. If you don’t have enough mix it with bought compost or vermicastings or compensate by sprinkling on a full spectrum mineral fertiliser. A layer of seaweed is another option if you are seaside.

Top it all off with a generous mulch of whatever you can scrounge – this year I’m using long grass aka homemade hay. Don’t worry about blocking the asparagus, those spears are like little drills – they’ll easily pierce through. Sea wrack makes a well suited mulch, reminding asparagus of its seaside origins.

Timing it right: tomatoes, peppers and aubergines from seed

greenhouse toms1

Tomatoes, peppers and aubergines are ready to transplant 6 – 8 weeks after sowing. Work backwards from here to figure out your perfect sowing moment.

If you have a greenhouse or live in the winterless north, you can get on the job this month knowing that there is a toasty warm, free draining environment to transplant your seedlings into. You’ll need a heatpad or hotbox of manure in order to warm the soil in your seed trays 20°. If the soils not warm enough your peppers wont get out of bed for you.

Without these things, wait until conditions are right. There’s no rush and the bonus of planting a bit later is that you’ll be cropping later. Its way more satisfying to plant out when conditions suit and watch your crops boost away. Don’t force it – move with the seasons and keep your garden growing strong.

August in the greenhouse

bishops flower and seedheads in the greenhouse
Bishops flower is irresistible to hoverflies and predatory wasps

In one corner of the greenhouse, celery and a goodly variety of salads are providing for the dinner table, and in the rest of the greenhouse I am piling organic matter in layers to build for the coming season.

Bokashi is being trenched as buckets finish fermenting and whatever organic matter I can rustle is being spread on top of last years soil. Long grass harvested from wild areas, scrapings from the chook house, rotten manure, leaf mould and the like. On miserable rainy days, I let the chooks in to stir the pot, gobble slugs and add yet more fertility. When I deemed the soil fed, I’ll sow a lupin, mustard and phacelia greencrop.

You could instead, spread a lovely generouds layer of compost and sprinkle a full spectrum mineral fertiliser before sowing your life giving greencrop.

Give the roof and walls a wash down for better light distribution. Its way easier and less toxic, to make this an annual event – you can simply use soap and a hose and brush. However, let the mould and blur entrench and you’ll need something stronger to clean it up which is not so fab for your soil. After the wash down, set the sprinkler going to dilute the soap.

  • Plant out companions like alyssum, bishops flower, nasturtium, poppy borage, phacelia and lots of lupin to get out ahead of your predatory insect needs. Get some going immediately inside and outside the doors as well.
  • Set up heatpad or hot box, gather seed raising mix, wash labels and trays and let the excitement of spring bubble up. Fun times ahead!


  1. Joy Anderton says

    Kia ora Kath and all lounge-locked gardeners
    Sitting watching the watertable rise by the minute here in Otaki it was a heart warming moment to receive your welcome message Kath.
    Even in the rain the first flush of miniature spring bulbs popping up is a delight.
    At least with all the fires there’ll be plenty of wood ash to boost the compost heap. Thanks for the words of wisdom Kath

  2. Helen B-Mills says

    I look forward so much to your bright and cheerful and very helpful news letters every month. Thank you Kath.

  3. Hello Kath,

    What is EM for your soil?
    Enjoy your news letters, very much!

    • Hi Carina

      Glad you enjoy the newsletters!

      Em is effective microorganisms – a team of beneficial fungi, bacteria, yeasts to out compete the bad guys and improve soil health so your plants grow with gusto! Like how yoghurt or kefir build a strong population of beneficial microorganisms in your gut. The website has heaps of info.


  4. Hi Cath, do you know were to buy Maori seed potatoes from?

  5. Hi Kath,
    Crop rotation – afraid I’m still at Winnie the poo stage.
    With limited space and other site challenges I tend to have one sheltered bed where lettuces thrive, one good sunny spot for garlics and toms, one against-the-fence place for beans, etc. Any thoughts?

    Amongst my many neglected beds are some strawberry plants that did ok last year so a pegged out the runners, gave them a lovely seaweed mulch and tucked them up for winter.
    Yesterday I hoed the weeds and gave them a sprinkle of the last of my rok solid. What more can I do – I should I have done – to make sure I land in strawberry heaven?
    Thanks so much,

    • As ever, my thoughts are about noticing how things go and adjusting accordingly. Getting to know your own particular space. In tight places containers are super useful because you can empty the soil onto beds and refresh minimise soil borne disease that way. Teaming good companions up is another great way to use space better for example dwarf beans beneath tomatoes – nitrogen feeder + heavy feeder is a winner. A succession of greencrops in between is another strategy to clean/ rest/ rebuild soil between times if growing the same annual crop repeatedly in one spot.
      As for strawbs, sounds like you’ve done great things here. Next year in May might I suggest spreading a generous layer of rotten manure, grows the best berries ever! but the key is time for it to incorporate. If you’ve got a big strong set of leaves on your plants you’ll have a great crop – if not keep plucking off the flowers and build your foliage with liquid seaweed or some such and let them flower when they’ve got enough leaves to support berries. Mulch now will minimise fungal splash back and hold moisture – oh so important for these shallow rooters.
      happy days

  6. Kia ora Kath,

    Well done you for the sensible boundary keeping – we all love the monthly emails and fabulous blog posts and would rather they kept coming than let the lot fall over because you’re spent from late nights answering our individuals! Keep up the awesome work 😊

  7. Hi Kath,
    Thank you for your precious advice,
    Do you have any book to recommend to start gardening with the moon? I have never paid attention to the moon but my grand mother does and her garden is thriving so I want to give it a go.

  8. I loved your letter to us at the beginning of this newsletter. Makes me feel like we are all in this together and like we can make a difference, just by doing the things we love to do. I feel like we can support each other more and this is what you are doing–supporting us to do the things that are healing our planet and the people on it. No Kath, you are not stretching it at all. We must all stretch to get to the place where we can do more for each other and for the earth we so love.

  9. Ruth Harrison says

    Hi Kath,
    This is really useful and I’m starting to get my vege bed ready for spring, after the winter veges have done their dash. But I have a big creeping oxalis problem in the vege bed (thats the yellow flower). I wondered if you had any tips on dealing with this problem please? earlier this year I had to weed the vege garden thoroughly every second day as the oxalis came up very quickly and covered everything – it was a nightmare and one I don’t want a repeat of! I have read that spraying with vinegar can help. Thanks!!! Ruth

    • Tricky as Ruth. You dont want to vinegar or baking soda amongst vegetables. This may seem drastic but make a new vegie garden in an oxalis free spot. Or shut down the infested bit, cover with a tarp for a year then lay thick cardboard and make a no dig garden on top. Life is too short to be weeding oxalis out of a vegie bed! The more you disturb it the more it spread and as a vegie garden is regularly disturbed its not a winner. Better to use the area for perennials/ fruit trees. Good luck 🙂

      • Ruth Harrison says

        Thanks so much Kath! A bit disheartening having this problem since I’ve only just got into vege gardening – but I guess its just one of the challenges to get through!!
        I have googled this and seen lots of different advice – then wondered why I hadn’t asked you as you always have a well thought out and sensible approach!!, thanks againl

        • So much learning in the garden! I get it… agggh begin again! but its well worth it and now you’ve got really solid awareness up your sleeve for future – avoid weed infestations for annual crops or eliminate the weed infestation before creating the garden. So good. Enjoy!

  10. paul kingdom says

    Hi Kath,
    nubie gardner here. Loving you newsletters and advise. Im love love loving learning how to live out of my garden. Thank you.
    Kath ive got a avocado plant and it has brown leaves growing . The new shots are looking great but im concerned it may have a disease of maybe bad soil. Any advise please.

    Thanks Kath. Keep up the fantastic work and stay well

  11. Philip Wills says

    Kia ora Bonny I think a lot of the smaller growers have sold out already (incl setha’s) but I found a good range from Morton-Smith Dawe at M10.

  12. Ruth Offord says

    Hi Kath,
    Love the tip of three onions in a hole. Does it work just as well with red onions?

    I grow everything in pots, evergrow bags and vegepods as we have no open ground.
    I have installed worm towers in all of the pods which seemed lifeless at first, but I was blown away with the amount of worms in one of the pods I turned over yesterday to get ready for spring.
    Do you have any tips for growing in containers?
    I have learnt lots from your news letters already.
    Thank you.

    • Oh yes – red onions as well. Such a good space saver. I dont have alot of experience in pots nor have I written much about them but there are heaps of really good container and pot vegie growers out there now for you to draw on. One I live is The edible balcony India Naidoo. The only article Ive written is this one here Take care out there, Kath

    • Hey Kath,

      Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. Very much appreciated.

      We’ve recently moved and and been quite busy of late, so are lacking compost for this season. The current gardens have been well looked after over the years but we still want to amend them. You mentioned ordering in compost, which I have done in the past, yet I am much more cautious about that these days due to the negative impacts they can have k on soul life, depending on source. Do you have any recommendations? W are located in Whanganui.

      Thanks so much

      • Hey Jared

        You are right to be cautious. The very best compost is the stuff you make yourself. Hands down. I get it though – the business factor. How I’ve adapted over the years is to have less annual vegetables by moving into a few more perennials and to grow three times as much in a smaller space by sowing the next crop beneath the feet of the older crop take the pressure off the compost making to make it achievable. For now though you need compost and I cannot help you there – I’d hunt out one of the many local organic/ permaculture crew and hit them up. Also to diary in an hour a week to collect organic matter. This stash is the difference.
        all the best Kath

  13. Thanks Kath! The winterless north is still a tad chilly at 4 degrees this morning. Really only have kale, silverbeet and cabbage liking this soggy clay and cool weather.
    Was becoming a little despondent about my vege patch but you just gave me my mojo back again.
    Green blessings to you.

  14. Laureen Goodger says

    Hi Kath love your book and monthly newsletter, I am planting in vege pod and would love to know your thoughts on keeping soil good there. Or should I be emptying out each year and replacing with new soil?? thanks heaps Laureen

  15. Hi Kath really inspired by your book and monthly blog. Going to have a go at growing potatoes (among other things) for the first time this year but have read different things about chitting. How necessary is it and should the potatoes be put in a light or dark place for this? Thanks Donna

    • Hey Donna – Spuds will sprout in the dark and the light. In the light they grow stocky shoots and in the dark long spindly ones …. just like what happens to the spuds in the cupboard! I’ve never measured the difference as to chitted or not in the garden – I’m guessing the idea is its faster? but really the spuds will grow (ever had them come up n the compost?) Rarely these days do I pre sprout them – I just bang them in and they grow fine. Spuds are super easy. Enjoy!

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